What doesthis F. — I.W. mean?Initial-slang, informed Baines. Made correctby common usage. It has become a worldwidemotto. You’ll see it all over the place if you haven’tnoticed it already.I have seen it here and there but attached no importanceto it and thought nothing more about it. Iremember now that it was inscribed in several placesincluding Seth’s and the fire depot.It was on the sides of that bus we couldn’tempty, put in Gleed. It didn’t mean anything tome.It means plenty, said Jeff. Freedom — IWon’t!That kills me, Gleed responded. I’m stonedead already. I’ve dropped in my tracks. Hewatched Harrison thoughtfully pocketing the plaque.A piece of abracadabra. What a weapon!Ignorance is bliss, asserted Baines, strangelysure of himself. Especially when you don’t knowthat what you’re playing with is the safety catch ofsomething that goes bang.All right, challenged Gleed, taking him up onthat. Tell us how it works.I won’t. Baines’ grin reappeared. He seemed tobe highly satisfied about something.That’s a fat lot of help. Gleed felt let down, especiallyover that momentary hoped-for reward.You brag and boast about a one-way weapon, tossacross a slip of stuff with three letters on it and thengo dumb. Any folly will do for braggarts and anybraggart can talk through the seat of his pants. Howabout backing up your talk?I won’t, repeated Baines, his grin broader thanever. He gave the onlooking Harrison a fat, significantwink.It made something spark vividly within Harrison’smind. His jaw dropped, he dragged the plaque fromhis pocket and stared at it as if seeing it for the firsttime.Give it back to me, requested Baines, watchinghim.Replacing it in his pocket, Harrison said veryfirmly, I won’t.Baines chuckled. Some people catch on quicker than others.
Eric Frank Russell